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3 Problems for Stay at Home Moms Who Don’t Take Time for Themselves

Woman with hands clasped over her heart. Stay at home moms who don't take time for themselves often end up burned out or depressed. The good news is that I am here to help you.

Exhausted and unmotivated, I was trying to figure out what was going on. I knew I was firmly among the group of stay at home moms who don’t take time for themselves, but my eyes instantly filled with tears as I realized the implications of what I had just read.

“Much like Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique from all those years ago, I found myself treating a condition that had no name. Now, I know it’s mommy burnout, and that their daughters are feeling the effects of their mother’s pain”

– Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, Mommy Burnout

My lack of care and concern for myself was not just hurting me, it was hurting my children. And if that realization didn’t hurt enough. I immediately jumped to shaming myself over it. “There is something wrong with me and now I am making my children’s lives worse because of it.”  That was the point when I hit bottom, and I decided to make changes to get me out of this hole I was in.

The truth of the matter is that stay at home moms who don’t take time for themselves often end up burned out, depressed, and modeling unhealthy self-care practices.

Stay at Home Moms, Burnout, and Depression

Parenting can be exhausting, even with the best support in place. Throw in being a stay at home mom constantly caring for others without a break, and tired doesn’t even hint at how you actually feel. But we’ve come to accept that moms are always tired, busy, and overwhelmed. Not only is this detrimental to mom’s mental health, it is ultimately bad for our children’s mental health, too.

Problem #1: Stay at Home Mom Burnout

I was exhausted. I felt drained. Unmotivated. Irritable and hopelessly stuck. A teenager had rear ended and totaled my minivan. Replacing my vehicle had now taken a sizable chunk out of our savings.

My days as a stay at home mom were over. I was going to have to go back to work, except I had no idea what to do. Any ideas I had were lackluster, and I literally couldn’t bring myself to actually move forward with them. What was going on!? I’m usually the person that always has a plan and overachieves when I carry out my plans.

It took me a while to figure out that I had mom burnout. I thought I was heading toward depression and having some kind of midlife crisis. (Am I really old enough for that!?) The truth of the matter is that I had been dealing with some level of burnout for years.

Mom burnout is when you become exhausted from long-term stress caused by feeling overwhelmed when you cannot keep up with the demands of parenting. Stay at home moms who don’t take time for themselves, often feel this constant level of stress and start to feel burned out.

Some signs of mom burnout include:

  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Detachment
  • Headaches, backaches, or stomachaches
  • Changing in appetite or sleeping habits

Mom burnout centers around the stress you feel due to all the caregiving responsibilities involved in raising a family. Stay at home moms and working moms both can be burned out, and are often jealous of the other’s situation when they are burned out. The truth is burn out does not discriminate, all moms can get burned out.

Problem #2: Depression

The longer I was burned out, the worse I felt. I’d had depression before and it felt like I was spiraling down toward it once again. This is what happens with mom burnout if you don’t take time for yourself and care for yourself. A constant state of exhaustion and overwhelm will lead you deeper towards the dark tunnel of depression.

Although burnout and depression are similar, there are differences. Depression is more serious, and may take therapy and/or medications to feel better. Depression will feel more like a persistent state of sadness, exhaustion, and hopelessness.

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Feeling worthless and hopeless
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Detachment
  • Headaches, backaches, or stomachaches
  • Changing in appetite or sleeping habits
  • Suicidal thoughts

As you can see, burnout and depression have similar symptoms. Depression tends to have more intense and serious effects on your life. If burnout or depression is affecting your ability to function normally on a daily basis, it is time to make some changes in your life. You may want to consider therapy.

(If you are having thoughts about harming yourself or others, there is help available now. Go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for more resources or to live chat. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  You can call or chat if you feel like you need immediate emotional support, even if you are not having suicidal thoughts.)

After reading that my own burnout and possible depression was affecting my children, I decided to see a therapist myself. Like most moms, I might not do something for myself, but I sure as heck would do it for my children. That fueled my motivation.

My low point was the catalyst that started me on my journey to learn all I could about mom burnout and how to recover from it, so I could feel better, and ultimately, help other moms, too.

Problem #3: Unhappy Mom, Unhappy Family

I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar. You’re enjoying a Saturday morning home with your family. Your partner says an offhand comment that pushes your buttons, and you say something short to him. Your mood darkens, and the next thing you know, your kids are starting to argue about something. Then the baby starts crying. You’ve seen this enough times to know that if you don’t calm yourself down and pull yourself together, the whole household is going to be a moody, mess for the rest of the day, or possibly the entire weekend. There seems to be a lot of truth to the saying, “If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”

It is hard to be the supportive, caring mom our family expects us to be when our cup is empty. When this happens, our family feels the lack, and their behaviors can become more negative in response to it.

How do we get our cup filled? The only sure fire way to get our cup filled is to do it ourselves. I know. I know. When I was feeling burned out with little to no energy, I really wanted somebody to come help me. I felt I couldn’t do it by myself.

The good news for you is that I am here to help you. Keep reading, then take the self assessment (LINK) to figure out what you can do to best move forward and feel better.

Break the Cycle

We cannot teach our children what we don’t know ourselves. The sad realization about how my lack of taking time to myself and caring for myself was potentially harming my children, led me to make the changes I needed to make in my life. I knew that I was modeling some very unhealthy behaviors that led to my own burn out.

Children learn by watching how parents live their lives. I didn’t want to teach my daughter how to disregard her happiness and mental health to try to be the perfect mom, like I had been striving for. I want a better life for her. In order for her to do that, I needed to learn how to take time for myself, model good self-care practices, and acknowledge unrealistic expectations for moms.

For my family, I want to break the cycle of stay at home moms not taking time to themselves to the point of burnout. I want to show my children a better way to care for their own mental health.

Not taking care of yourself doesn’t just affect you as a mom. Not only could it lead to your own burnout or depression, but you can’t teach coping mechanisms to your children that you haven’t learned yourself. So help yourself, mom, and you’ll be helping your children learn how to care for themselves now and when they become parents themselves.

You are not alone, mom, I am here to help you. Take the self assessment (LINK) now, and get some strategies that you can start implementing today to feel better. There is hope. You can create a better life for yourself.

P.S.

If you liked this post, check out my other posts on how stay at home moms can take time for themselves, model simple self-care practices. and acknowledge unrealistic expectations for moms.

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